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Dr Stephanie Rennick & Dr Charlotte Newey

Lecturers,School of English, Communication and Philosophy

Published 07 Sep 2017 • 30 mins read

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Improving Peer Review: A Pilot Study

This is a downloadable report on the outcomes of a project investigating the role of peer-assessment and feedback.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION & METHODOLOGY

There is an apparent tension between the indicative workload limit for assessment and feedback (one hour per student, per module) and the diversity and quality of feedback the University aims to give. A common suggestion is to make use of peer feedback. Anecdotal evidence suggests peer feedback is positively received in some disciplines, yet underutilised or unpopular in others. This pilot study starts to explore the conditions under which peer feedback works (or doesn’t), identifies some of the particular factors and circumstances affecting its reception by students, and suggests ways to remove barriers to its successful implementation. The project focussed mostly on Philosophy, but we anticipate the findings will have wider application.

The project’s overarching aims were three-fold:

1. To trial different opportunities for, and kinds of, peer feedback.

2. To gather qualitative and quantitative data on the perceived usefulness of peer feedback, before, during, and after interventions (see below).

3. To improve students’ ability to identify and utilise different kinds of feedback (including, but not limited to, peer feedback).

Ultimately, we wished to improve the perception of peer feedback among students by helping them to understand its usefulness, identify the conditions under which it is most valuable, and gain insight into the barriers that can hinder its success.

To achieve these outcomes, we set three specific objectives:

  1. a. Canvas opinion among undergraduates concerning peer feedback (gathering both qualitative and quantitative data) – see §1.1.
  2. b. Trial six interventions across three modules in philosophy (two undergraduate and one postgraduate module) – see §1.2.
  3. c. Measure the difference in perceived usefulness between the different interventions, including instances identified explicitly as constituting peer feedback versus those described merely in terms of the activity (e.g. ‘a group exercise’) – see §2f.

Please download to see the full report

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